LATEST NEWS HEADLINES
Southwark Green Party welcomed the declaration of a Climate Emergency by the London Borough of Southwark in March 2019 but councillors and council officers are not acting in a way that responds to the gravity of that declaration.
We call for action that recognises the emergency.
Southwark Green Party members have responded as individuals to the draft climate strategy, and some are also members of the council’s Partnership Steering Group (established in March 2020) and have contributed detailed comments on policy through that process. This response will not duplicate that work, but rather highlights some key failings of the draft strategy and these nine points that define how we would approach the task.[Read more...]
In a guest post, Guy Mannes-Abbott celebrates Tree Week with stories of the Foxglove tree (Paulina tormentosa), one of many species that make up the Heygate Legacy. He led what became a community campaign to force Southwark Council and developers Lendlease to recognise the public welfare or commons value of the urban forest of 458 trees on the old Heygate Estate at Elephant and Castle.
Early in the first lockdown this year I decided to tweet a Tree of the Day from my account @leaftoleaf; images and notes about a new network of trees that I had an intimate relation with in my neighbourhood. Those trees included Persian ironwood and silk trees, Indian bean and horse-chestnut trees, hornbeams and field maples, black pines and poplars, and the trusty London plane in estates, streets and parks centring on the Elephant and Castle.
Latest guidance on campaign activity for Green Party members can be read here https://members.greenparty.org.uk/covid-19 (membership log-in required).
Earlier in the year we hosted with our friends and colleagues in Lambeth Green Party a series of events with leaders from the Green Party under the banner: Beyond Covid-19. I am sure that most of us at the time assumed that months later we might indeed be beyond the pandemic, or at least closer to the end than we are. Nonetheless, with positive news about a vaccine, perhaps we are close to the beginning of the end?
And what about democracy in the time of a pandemic?
The London Assembly and Mayoral elections were due to take place in May 2020. These elections were postponed, now go-ahead in May 2021 and campaigning has begun again. This important election will impact many aspects of our city and provides an excellent opportunity for our Green Party candidates.
- National Co-leader Siân Berry is candidate for London Mayor and captured excellent polling ahead of the postponement
- Two Assembly Members – Siân and Caroline Russell – were elected in 2016 via the Proportional Representation element of the vote for London-wide representatives.
- The ambition is to re-elect Siân and Caroline and to increase the Green representation to at least three and beyond, with Zack Polanski and Benali Hamdache third and fourth respectively on the Green Party list.
Teams in Southwark and across London have been out distributing campaign literature to Londoners – but is this safe or advisable during the pandemic?
As a party that prides itself on evidence-based decision-making, we are following the science and official guidance from Public Health England. What this means broadly is:
- Voters can be confident that receiving campaign literature does not present a risk
- Door-knocking is not authorised
- All campaigners are briefed on ‘safe’ leafletting, which means it needs to be done alone, with a mask on and with regular application of hand sanitiser
- Distributing leaflets is a volunteer activity and therefore is permitted during lockdown
Our guidance is regularly updated but for the time-being, the right type of campaigning is on. Across the borough dedicated campaigners are making a significant contribution to the London-wide campaign. The ambition of this campaign is to reach several hundred thousand voters with multiple rounds of campaign messaging. A massive thank you to those making this happen and for observing the guidelines.
Should you wish to join them, there are always opportunities to do so – the more of you, the better to spread the load. Let us know via firstname.lastname@example.org and we will let you know where and when. Equally, if you have been campaigning and have any concerns or questions, please raise them with your co-ordinator or via the central email.
Information for Voters
If you are reading this as someone who has received campaign literature from us and have questions or concerns, we welcome hearing from you.
For those voters who are vulnerable or who are nervous about voting in person in May, it is useful to remember the option to cast your votes by post or by proxy. Details are available from the Southwark Council website here.
Finally, remember that British, European and Commonwealth London residents can vote but you must be registered to do so. If you or members of your household are not registered to vote, you need to visit here.
With so many fewer cars on the streets during lockdown, air pollution has fallen by up to 50% and people have been walking and cycling to local shops and parks, as well as to work.
But now, as lockdown eases, cars are returning to the streets. If Southwark doesn’t act to provide more space for pedestrians and cyclists, all Southwark residents will suffer.
- Many people will not be able to travel safely to work. The majority of residents don’t have access to a private car and there will be reduced capacity on public transport for months to come.
- More people will choose to drive, creating gridlock - causing delays for those who do need to use motorised transport, including delays to buses.
- Increased air pollution means more heart disease, asthma and strokes, as well as exacerbating the impact of coronavirus.
It's a question of social justice: 60% of Southwark residents do not have access to a car. With limited capacity on public transport, they need safe ways to walk and cycle. Workers in health care, retail and construction who can’t work from home are more likely to be on lower incomes and most in need of safer ways to commute.
If Southwark Council doesn’t act quickly, there’s a real risk that as people avoid public transport, Southwark will become a corridor of choking gridlock, from the southern suburbs to the river.
Meanwhile, people still need extra space on pavements for daily exercise, recreation and essential tasks while keeping a safe distance from each other.
But the last few months have shown that rapid changes are possible.